A new study shows that walnuts help improve blood vessel function in diabetics, potentially reducing the risk of heart disease.
If you’ve adopted a high raw, healthy diet, likely you already enjoy walnuts on a regular basis. Here’s more good news for you: Among all its other health benefits, according to a recent study, walnuts improve blood-vessel health and function in patients with type-2 diabetes. This is important, as diabetics are at a higher risk for heart disease, and the improvement seen in this study suggests that walnuts could help reduce overall cardiac risk.
What Happened in the Study
Yale researchers recruited 24 diabetic patients with an average age of 58. One group was fed a standard diet, and the other a diet with 56 grams or about two ounces of walnuts a day for eight weeks. The researchers measured blood vessel function at the beginning and end of the study, and also drew blood to measure blood Sugar levels and insulin.
Results showed that endothelial function improved significantly on the walnut diet. In other words, those on the walnut diet had a 45 percent greater increase in blood vessel relaxation compared to the placebo group. “A walnut-enriched diet improves [blood vessel health] in type 2 diabetic individuals, suggesting a potential reduction in overall cardiac risk.”
The findings were in line with a previous study that showed walnuts were associated with reduced cholesterol levels. Another study published in the Journal of Nutrition (2004) showed that walnuts had a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels and C-reactive protein (CRP), which is an inflammation marker strongly associated with atherosclerosis and artery disease.
But walnuts have shown to have even more health benefits.
Boosting Brain Power
Researchers at Andrews University divided 64 students into two groups. One munched on banana bread made with walnuts every day for 2 months. The second ate banana bread without walnuts. At the end of the 8 weeks, researchers gave the students a variety of cognitive tests. Results showed that students who had eaten walnuts daily for performed better on tests that measured inferential reasoning—the ability to judge the accuracy of statements made when reading an article, paper, or other source.
Protecting Bone Health
Studies have also found that walnuts may help decrease the breakdown of bone. One published in the Nutrition Journal Penn State found that higher consumption of the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)—such as that which is plentiful in walnuts—leads to a reduction in bone turnover, and a shift in the balance of bone degradation/formation toward formation. Walnuts are considered one of the most nutrient-dense whole food sources of ALA.
King of the Nuts
Joe Vinson of the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania said in a statement that walnuts rank above peanuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios and other nuts, as they contain almost twice as many antioxidants. Of course, all nuts contain high-quality protein, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber, but the antioxidants in walnuts were 2–15 times as potent as vitamin E, according to findings presented at the 241st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.
And if you’re worried about calories—Vinson said it takes only about 7 walnuts a day to enjoy the health benefits.
Do you incorporate walnuts into your daily diet? Please share your experience.
Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.
Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog RenegadeHealth.com — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.